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26/08/2017 23:28
The Netherlands and Bulgaria complete European contingent for 2018 women’s Worlds
2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Women

Rotterdam, the Netherlands, August 26, 2017. The Netherlands and Bulgaria secured their ticket to next year’s FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship in Japan after adding a fourth straight victory to their respective tally at the third-round qualifier held in Rotterdam. The Netherlands routed Slovenia in three sets as Bulgaria did the same in a highly anticipated matchup with Belgium. On Sunday, the Netherlands and Bulgaria will play for first place in the final standing – but there is only that at stake since both teams have already reached their ultimate goal. The Netherlands and Bulgaria join the winners of the six second-round qualifiers held in June – Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan and Germany – to compose the European contingent for next year’s World Champs.  

The Netherlands vs. Slovenia 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-16)

The Dutch team only needed to take two sets from this match in order to qualify for the World Championship, but the home side did what they promised earlier this week: they want to win every match they contest in Rotterdam. Even though they did not start very well (1-5 in the first set), finally they routed Slovenia in three sets (25-16, 25-11, 25-16).

“I am happy we qualified today, but we want to win every match at this tournament, also the one tomorrow against the strong team of Bulgaria,” stated winning coach Jamie Morrison. “Our victory seemed easy, but mainly in the first set, we had a good team in front of us. They are young, but play a hard game; you are capable of something when you manage to win a set from Bulgaria. The major difference was our service pressure, we worked hard on that the past year and it begins to show. Tomorrow against Bulgaria we want to win again, we want to end first at this tournament.”

Dutch team captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues: “We had a slow start, thanks to excellent defence of Slovenia, but again we were able to change the tide with our service pressure, like we did in the previous matches. By winning this match 3-0 again, we showed we belong to the World Championship. Yes, we qualified, but as we mentioned earlier, we want to win all of our matches, also the one against the strong team of Bulgaria tomorrow. If we do so, we will feel even better than today.”

Slovenian coach Alessandro Chiappini: “We are a work in progress. We cannot do much more than we did today. We had nothing to lose against such a strong Dutch team, so I told my players to fight to the end and so they did. I am not disappointed, we learned that our reception is our biggest problem, but we learnt more. We know what we have to improve to get better and will work on that.”

His captain Eva Mori: “We had a great start, but after that our reception collapsed and our game in general worsened. Our congratulations to the Netherlands, they played very well the whole tournament. I wish them the best of luck at the World Championship next year. The Dutch have proven to be able to fight for the top honours, as we saw at the Olympics in Rio. I think they are one of the favourites for a medal next year in Japan.”

Belgium vs. Bulgaria 0-3 (17-25, 22-25, 19-25)

Belgium had to beat Bulgaria in order to remain in contention for a ticket to the 2018 World Champs but the Yellow Tigers did not stand a chance and ended up losing in three sets to the Lionesses from Bulgaria. With four victories in as many matches, Bulgaria have now qualified for next year’s global tournament in Japan.

“We prepared for this tournament optimally and I am extremely satisfied we reached one of our main goals this season: qualifying for the 2018 World Championship,” Bulgarian coach Ivan Dimitrov commented proudly afterwards.  “We prepared for this match intensively, we spared half of our players in the match against Greece on Thursday, and as a result, we presented a really fresh team today. We were 100% against Belgium today and Belgium did not play at their best level. We reached our goal, qualifying for the World Championship 2018 and I am happy about that. As for tomorrow, I hope we play against the Netherlands as well as we did today. We will see what happens against a really strong Dutch squad.”
His captain Elitsa Vasileva: “This feels really good! We did not expect to win this match this easy. We were extremely focussed and we played well in every element of the game. We want to play a match just that good against the Netherlands tomorrow.”

The best word to describe the feelings of Belgium coach Gert Vande Broek resulting from missing out on a spot to compete at the 2018 World Championship is disillusionment. “Bulgaria outclassed us in every element today. We had a few good moments, but they outclassed us from the beginning. The amount of individual errors was too high today, with almost all of my players making too many mistakes. We mainly screwed up in defence, blocking and passing. We seem to fail as soon as we feel pressure. We must look forward to the European Championship now, and we want to set some things straight in that tournament.”

Belgian captain Charlotte Leys: “We failed as a collective, only Britt Herbots reached her level today. We could not put any service pressure and against a team like Bulgaria, you do not stand a chance anymore if you fail to do that. On top of that, our block did not work and our passing was not accurate. I congratulate both Bulgaria and the Netherlands on their qualification. The Netherlands are the strongest team here I think, I wish them a lot of success in Japan next year and I believe they will make it very far in that tournament.”

Czech Republic vs. Greece 3-2 (25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 16-25, 15-11)

It was a close affair between the two lowest ranked teams, but finally the Czech Republic booked their first tournament victory in Rotterdam. On Sunday, when playing against Belgium, Greece will have their last chance to record at least one win on Dutch soil.  

Despite the win, Czech coach Zdenek Pommer was not quite satisfied with the performance of his team: “Ok, we won, that’s the most important part. We really fought for the victory in the final phase, but it was not a good match, we struggled mentally. Tomorrow we will show we are a team that has the energy to fight for a good result once more. We would really like to finish with a second win.”

Czech captain Aneta Havlickova: “It was a hard game for us, we felt really tired. Our mind wanted to win, but our bodies protested. When Greece put pressure on us, it was difficult to get up again. It’s always difficult to keep your level and concentration against teams like Greece.”

Greece assistant coach Ioannis Orfanos was proud of his team: “Every day we are getting better. We had far from a perfect preparation, no friendly matches, and these matches were the first we played with this selection. However, today our substitutes did well. The fifth set is a lottery, and hopefully we book a win tomorrow against Belgium.”

His captain Aikaterina Giota: “Today we played much better, more concentrated, more like a team. Regarding our preparation, this was a good match for us. Tomorrow we will try to enjoy our last match in this tournament, we have nothing to lose, and we will play with joy and see how far that will bring us. Our aim now is qualifying for the 2019 European Championship, with the qualification process starting in January next year.”

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27/08/2017 22:09:00
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24/08/2017 22:00:00
The Netherlands and Bulgaria one win away from qualifying for women’s World Champs

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